Arnold Schwarzenegger's seven-year term as California governor ended Monday, but his exit is not much of a Hollywood finale.

The former bodybuilder and movie actor ends his final term with an approval rating of just 22 per cent after using up the state's two-term limit on being governor.

He leaves as the state deficit grows, schools struggle and federal courts have taken control of part of the prison system.

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger addresses the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento in December, urging members to adopt some of the most sweeping clean air regulations in the United States. ((Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press) )

When he entered politics, Schwarzenegger promised to fix California's financial mess and balance the budget. He pruned expenses through layoffs and salary rollbacks, but the recession got the better of him, and he will be leaving behind a $28-billion US budget deficit.

On the plus side, the Republican governor is credited with pushing California to the forefront in the battle against global warming and solving the state's electricity supply problems — in part by putting more money into generating solar power.

His next act? He says he will hit the speech circuit, keep a hand in political activism and possibly write the autobiography publishers have wanted him to do for years.

Schwarzenegger, 63, says he might even get back into acting if the right script comes along.

Jerry Brown was sworn in Monday as California's 39th governor, promising an era of austerity and a markedly different leadership style from Schwarzenegger's.

Brown, a Democrat and the current state attorney general, becomes only the second person to serve three terms as California governor.

His tenure as the 34th governor, from 1975 to 1983, was before voter-imposed term limits, allowing Brown to seek the office again at age 72.

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With files from The Associated Press